This week, alt-country gods Drive-By Truckers make their annual return to Athens for a series of sold-out homecoming shows at the 40 Watt Club. This year’s shows happen to fall during Valentine’s Day week, ensuring there will be plenty of DBT-loving couples in attendance. To get y’all in the V-Day spirit, we’ve prepared a playlist of DBT’s 10 best love songs, which you can stream below. Below that, read more about a few of our favorites.
“Feb. 14,” from A Blessing and a Curse (2006)
Like most Truckers “love” songs, “Feb. 14,” in the strictest sense, is about a tumultuous relationship that has seemingly fallen apart. Patterson Hood sets the scene of a man attempting to win back a scorned lover with a glorious Valentine’s display of chocolate and flowers, only for it all to get thrown across the room and destroyed. The protagonist laments the fact that his ex is “blossoming all over” while he “wither[s] on the line,” but you get the sense from Hood’s desperate delivery that this suffering is well-deserved.
“Back of a Bible,” from Hood’s Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs) (2009)
As evidenced by its title, Hood’s solo album isn’t exactly focused on sweet, traditional romance. An exception is made for “Back of a Bible,” a simple and deeply moving tune about being far away from a loved one. The song is written from the perspective of someone staying in a cheap motel by their lonesome after traveling to attend a wedding. As they sit lamenting over the state of the room and missing their beau, they grab the blank page out of the back of the bible and improvise a love song on the spot. The song feels inspired by countless nights on tour away from family; it’s that honesty that gives it real emotional power.
“Love Like This,” from Alabama Ass Whuppin’ (2000)
From early in the Truckers’ catalog comes “Love Like This.” Mike Cooley sings from the point of view of a man coming home from a long work week with a bottle of whiskey in hand, ready to spend the weekend blackout drunk. The man experiences abuse and disapproval from his partner and her family, reminding him of why he drinks in the first place. One could interpret the man’s situation in multiple ways, but when Cooley sings, “You pack a purty mean punch for such a pretty little dish/ And it’s a shame to know most folks don’t ever know love like this,” it’s clear that the character’s true love is Mr. Jack Daniels.
“Marry Me,” from Decoration Day (2003)
“Marry Me” is not just the best love song in the Truckers’ repertoire, but one of their best songs, period. Cooley plays a good ol’ boy trying to talk his girl into settling down with him despite his wild ways. Our hero has led a big-city life, but it’s evident from his proposal that he’s ready to settle down in his girl’s do-nothing town. Cooley’s best work tends to come when he inhabits this partying persona—it’s a slimy but entertaining character. It’s not hard to imagine that the protagonist of Truckers classic “3 Dimes Down” might be the same guy from “Marry Me” trying to lead yet another girl into his tangled web of lying, cheating and getting wasted in parking lots.
“Everybody Needs Love,” from Go-Go Boots (2011)
A cover of a song by Alabama songwriter and frequently cited DBT influence Eddie Hinton, “Everybody Needs Love” is about the universal feeling of acceptance and positivity that humanity needs to thrive. Though Hinton’s version of the song was woefully under-appreciated, the Truckers breathe new life into the track. Hood’s repeated chant of “Everybody needs love, love love,” backed by a gospel chorus, is an iconic moment in the band’s catalog, and can make even the most set-in-his-ways bachelor consider settling down for good.
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